No matter what choices we make, especially when it comes to that tough decision of staying home with our babies or maintaining our career outside of the home, there can be that sense of lurking guilt. If we work, it’s the guilt that we should be spending every possible moment with our babies and nurturing them ourselves, rather than leaving them in the care of a babysitter or daycare provider.
If we stay home and sacrifice our career ambitions it could feel like we’re not contributing to the household finances or have guilt about giving up our own career or dreams. This tug a war of mom choices I feel has lead to an epidemic of mom guilt. I often wonder due to modern choices and media influences if today’s mother suffers from more guilt than the generations before us.
The thing is it wasn't the managing all the balls in the air that was so hard for me. Many of us have done that in our pre children lives. Many of us worked, had extra activities or commitments, went to school sometimes on top of a full time job, ran a household, and planned for whatever big life event was next. The modern, post feminist woman of today is incredibly ambitious; she can handle juggling all those balls in the air. I had managed multitasking well before I had kids. What I came to realize though was although I could balance lots of things, if I couldn’t give everything 100% in the past I was okay with that because I would always still accomplish everything. I could BS my way through any homework assignment if I didn't have time; I could put off cleaning the house or washing the dishes or doing the laundry. I could not be there 100% mentally for my job for a day or so when things got to be too much. I was okay with doing all those things at once but only giving them 75% of myself when needed in order to get everything finished. But I was not okay with giving my kids 75%. They deserved 100% plus, but unfortunately with all the things as a working mom that I had to take care of in a given day, there are too many days than I care to admit that they didn't get the 100% they deserved from me. This is where as a mother the guilt overwhelms me at different points and makes me question every choice I make with raising my children.
To work on overcoming my guilt, I remind myself often to focus on the positives and not the flaws I see in my mothering abilities or choices. I remind myself that it’s not quantity but quality that matters. Even if I can't be at home with them all day, I try to make the best of the time we do get to spend together by coloring, baking, playing in the backyard, going for walks, taking family trips and adventures, and cuddling every chance we get. Hopefully, in the end they'll turn out to be the remarkable people my husband and I know they can be, and our children will know and understand how much we truly love them, even if it did seem at times we were too distracted with all the other things going on in life.
Sometimes though the mommy guilt is not even about working or not working, but rather it’s feelings of guilt that we didn’t make them a more nutritional dinner and opted for drive thru chicken nuggets again, that we let them cry themselves to sleep, that we yelled at them too harshly for misbehaving, that we don’t see our friends anymore, or that we took a night away from home to go spend time with our friends or have a night out with our husband. We feel guilty that we sometimes rush the kids off to bed so we can just have a moment to ourselves. We feel guilty that we want to go to work because sometimes work is easier than being at home.
We shouldn’t even go to Pinterest or Facebook to see all the great meals, crafts, parties, home décor, and do it yourself projects everyone else seems to be mastering. Half of the time we even feel guilt for that. We see it as a reminder of what we haven’t accomplished yet. We think our kids are going to suffer because we’re not that “cool” mom that’s the jack of so many trades. For me feeding my kids, finding matching decorations for their next party in the Walmart aisle, fixing the hole in one of their shirts, and making sure they got their homework done without coloring the walls or whatever else is victory enough. Our mothering capabilities aren’t dependent on our Pinterest successes.
No matter what decisions we make something always makes us feel guilty or that we’re not doing something we should have done. We always wonder what it’d be like if we made a different choice. But there is no rewind button so I’m slowly learning to accept and make the best of the choices I have made and put guilt in its place, back in the closest with all the other monsters.
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